KABUL, 8 November 2010 (IRIN) – Afghanistan has climbed over a dozen places up the annual UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) – from 181 out of 182 countries in 2009, to 155 out of 169 this year.
Women wait for child vaccinations in Faizabad, Badakhshan
© Salma Zulfiqar/IRIN
Described as a human development indicator, the HDI “measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.”
However, Afghanistan is still among the world’s 23 Least Developed Countries, according to the UNDP report: About 42 percent of Afghans are living in poverty; life expectancy at birth is 44.6; there is one doctor and two hospital beds for every 5,000 Afghans. Under-five mortality is 275 per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is 1,400 per 100,000 births. Over half of Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water; 63 percent lack access to improved sanitation.
Despite their numerous difficulties, over half of Afghans are satisfied with their living conditions, says the report. Meanwhile, Transparency International, a Berlin-based corruption watchdog, ranks Afghanistan the third most corrupt state in the world in 2010.